Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
Powered by Squarespace
Live and Learn Categories
Live and Learn Tags

Entries in diy (9)


Antarctica felt set

For every unit-like study we tackle Calvin requests a new felt set and Antarctica was no exception. Like I did with the volcano felt set request, when he asked for penguins and the like I told him to draw what he wanted and make me a list of items to include.

I've made all of Calvin's felt sets using standard craft felt, sharp scissors, hot glue, and the occassional marker or pencil. Some of the shapes I cut free-form, some I mark directly on the felt and cut, and others I draw first on paper before sticking paper and felt together to cut along the lines. I was excited this time to find textured craft felt that made good mountains, and sparkly craft felt that made good snow.

We have two small travel felt boards now that Cavlin has now decided make up Antarctica in the summer and Antarctica in the winter, so I guess it's a goot thing I made two mountains. And there are three penguins here: the Emperors, the Adélies, and the Chin Straps. The red things are sea stars, the white in the sky is intended to be swirling wind and snow, and if you're wondering why the explorer seems to be sans pants, that's because he is actually from a different set I'd made and his pants got left behind in his haste to visit that cute penguin baby. Really.



A very Wizard of Oz birthday

When I picked up The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the original book by L. Frank Baum, last fall I did so in the process of looking for good read aloud books to share with Calvin. I had no idea at the time how far that one book would take us. Now, about eight months later, we've read all fourteen of Baum's Oz books, our love for them has become a hobby—for both of us—and Calvin is starting to re-read the series to himself. 

About a month ago Calvin asked to have a Wizard of Oz birthday party this year, and so that's what we did. Before I explain our steps I need to mention that this was not based on the movie, but on the original stories by Baum and artwork of John R. Neill. I should also mention that we're not into hosting big parties with, prizes, gift bags, etc. just yet. This was a low key, enjoyable family affair. Calvin was part of every step of the planning process except for the cake, which was my gift to him, as you'll see below. Calvin's planning included a lot of great ideas that were just not feasible, as it should be in a (now) five year old mind, but we did make a lot of things happen.

Follow the yellow brick road! We used a water and cornstarch mixture (a one to one ratio) with a lot of food coloring to make our front walkway into the yellow brick road. Calvin made signs for the front, the first reading "welcome to Oz" and the second reading "welcome to the Emrald City" (his spelling).

Once inside the house you were in the Emerald City, and all the decorations were green. Calvin chose green balloons, table cloth, napkins, plates, cups, and streamers.

Guests (grandparents, and two aunts) had been asked to wear yellow, red, blue, or purple, as all the citizens of Oz live in one of the four countries of that land and always dress in the color of their country. On entering they were given party hats to match their color of choice, since pointed hats just happen to be the costume of all in Oz. They were also given green glasses (which we'd ordered from an online party store) because in the original book the Emerald City isn't actually all green, visitors were instead made to wear glasses with green lenses to make it appear so. Calvin and I were the only standouts—he was the Wizard, and I got to be Princess Ozma.

I think Calvin got the greatest kick out of these last two details, although he had a great time decorating with balloons and streamers, too.

The cake was also designed by Calvin, although he did not know it. It is really a map of Oz as described in the books and as drawn by Calvin on many occasions. The Emerald City in the middle, the yellow brick road, and the poppy field I made of fondant, but I frosted the rest of the cake in homemade organic cream cheese frosting, colored with standard food coloring (usually a no-no in my book, but sometimes it just has to be done).

The cake is based on the original books, and obviously I'm not a professional cake decorator, but the concept is a good one and I'm sure someone can improve on it. The things surrounding it are actually handmade dolls of the characters from the books. They were part of our birthday gift to Calvin, a part that I'm glad to say he truly loved. The wood dolls were hand painted by Fancie Fannies (and are delightful and beautifully done). I ordered them over a month ago and it was hard not to give them to him early! The Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger are Schleich, and the blue Woozy and the Wooden Sawhorse I made myself (and am very proud of).

We had a wonderful time at the party, but as with most of these events, much of the fun was in the planning and preparation. I'm calling this art because a lot of imagination, planning, and creating definitely went into it. I loved thinking through the creation of the day with Calvin, and taking the necessary steps to make it happen, too.



Making the Woozy and the Sawhorse

These are two of Calvin's favorite characters from the original Oz series by L. Frank Baum and ever since I'd ordered the hand painted wood dolls from Fancie Fannies I'd been trying to think of a way to make these two critters come to life as well. These ideas came to me at the last minute, mostly because at that point I was forced to actually do something or give in. I made the Woozy last night (the night before the party) and the Sawhorse this morning while Calvin and his dad were out shopping for the party food. I am very pleased wtih them, and Calvin absolutely loved them.

The Woozy

He's a blue blocky character. Actually, he's described as being made entirely of squared off shapes, right down to his tail, on which he has exactly three hairs. I bought blue foam letters on clearance at Joann's and cut them to size using a kitchen knife. I joined the pieces together with toothpicks, adding a dab of hot glue to hold them. I painted on the eyes, nose, ears, and pink inside the mouth, and used a needle and thread to add his three tail hairs. When finished I gave the whole creature a good coating of Modge Podge. Voila—Woozy!

The Sawhorse

I raided the kindling pile for a few appropriately sized sticks. I used small saw to cut the body size. The first cuts for the mouth I also made with the saw, but I finished the mouth by whittling with a craft knife. The tail and legs I selected and cut to size and whittled their tips down to points. I used a drill to make holes in the body and inserted the limbs, using a dab of wood glue in each. I painted his eyes on and then coated him in a large helping of Modge Podge as well. The bridle was made with floss and the ears with felt.

Voila—Sawhorse! Shown here with Jack Pumpkinhead, painted by Fancie Fannies.


The Two Cars, add on

I realized that in my Two Cars post failed to include pictures of our finished road and of Calvin's journal entry from the auto show. This concerned him so I'm playing a little catch-up here.

Behold, the magic of cardboard and poster paint with a little Playmobil and Lego fun mixed in.

And the auto show in Calvin's own words:

"We went to the auto show in Detroit. We saw a hybrid. We saw an engine, and we saw many pistons. We rode the people mover."


The Two Cars and a hunt for more

Calvin has an inquisitive mind and, like most kids, an innate and insatiable hunger for knowledge. That's why, when we took him to the North American International Auto Show last year, I was sure he'd be awed, intrigued, rapt. I failed to realize, though, that the completely unknown is not automatically interesting, that our interest has to be piqued, that being surrounded by so many saturating stimulants—the people, the lighting, the colors, the sounds—can make concentration near impossible and can push our senses to a point of exhaustion, and that can make one very crabby. Calvin wasn't really crabby last year, and the trip wasn't a colossal failure, but he certainly wasn't rapt. So this year I prepared ahead. Since we'd rowed our first FIAR book the week before I decided to use that method as a template and found a great book about cars.

The story in The Two Cars, by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, is the tortoise and the hare, only with two cars, and the art is typical d'Aulaire wonderful. We spent a week reading and talking about the book, exploring the art and the writing, and also exploring cars. The personified cars in the story conversationally mention the crankshaft, the pistons, the springs, and their white walled tires. Calvin loved it. We drew cars, we made a road and drove mini cars, we counted by tens on a speedometer, we checked out an Eye Witness book about cars from our library and drew our own diagrams of their inner workings. I think the best part, though, the project that worked the most magic come auto show time in Detroit, was the scavenger hunt we spent a day together creating and putting into booklet form for use on the day of the show. Calvin was determined to look for oddities like pink or orange cars, motor specifics like an in-line, a V, and a flat crankshaft engine, and book specifics like those white walled tires. Amazingly the only thing we weren't able to find was a pink car.

Lapbooking our way (less busy work, more collection of projects)

Diagrams, art, vocabulary, learning tools, all in one folder:

Inside the Auto show booklet, which we assembled using a sheet of cardboard for a cover and braiding floss for the binding (and to which we attached a pencil for use at the show). We had a sheet of things to see, oddities to find, activities to do, and, at Calvin's insistence, blank space for drawing logos and other interesting things.

He made all his finds except for the pink car (bummer!) and he drew several logos. Recognize Toyota, Tesla, and Corvette on this page?

Ferrari, Maybach, Mercedes, Cadillac, Mazda, and Audi, and a picture of an electric car plugged in, too. He had no qualms about sitting down and sketching the logos when he liked them.

Inside and outside diagrams and a speedometer for counting by tens, plus a list of new words and the prized ticket from the Auto Show itself.

Calvin's own imaginative view of a motor (which he asked me to label the way I'd had him label my print outs, and I needed quite a bit of help with this one!)

Trying his hand at blending with colored pencils.

And we built a road for acting out the story, practicing with cardinal directions, and just plain having fun.